Civil Society Groups Demand that Governor Cuomo and State Legislature Pass Voting Rights Bill

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New York, NY – Following the August 6th 2015 commemoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a number of labor and civil rights organizations determined to launch a public interest initiative that would promote new federal and state voting rights laws. Given the 2013 US Supreme Court decision that repealed section 5 of the 1965 voting rights act, these activists concluded that a public interest campaign should be initiated within the body politic and civil society on NY supporting contemporary covenants for voting rights and electoral modernization.

To this end, Bruce Richard, Executive Vice President 1199SEIU and Coraminita Mahr, Vice President 1199SEIU facilitated the co-sponsorship of Our Voting Rights Leadership Summit that took place at the 1199 Cherkasky ­ Davis Conference Center from 2:00pm – 5:00pm.

“Our union acknowledges that there can be no economic justice without political justice,” said Bruce Richard, Executive Vice President 1199SEIU. “As we commemorate the legacy of Dr. King we are moved to support a renewed commitment to protecting the right to vote within our federal and state governance. When working families have the necessary voter protections they will empower themselves to achieve economic justice. We need to be honest with the situation of voter suppression that is already occurring in several states and begin to safeguard the increasingly vulnerable votes of Black and Brown communities in the United States of America.”

“Voting rights are not an optional item, they are our Constitutional and guaranteed rights that people have bled and died to preserve,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “From the streets of Selma, to the courthouses of Washington, D.C., and all across our land, voting rights are the result of a great movement and we won’t allow them to be taken away by right-wing zealots. We will fight to protect the voting rights of every American, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Let’s continue to strive to build that more perfect union and let’s start with preserving and defending the voting rights of all.”

“The voting rights of Americans is a sacred tradition that we must act to protect, especially in light of active voter suppression in America said Assemblywoman Latrice Monique Walker. I am pleased to be sponsoring the Modernized Voter Act which would facilitate voting with initiatives like electronic registration, same day registration and voting, and 15-day early voting, among others said. I stand with other State actors like Assemblyman Michael Blake, Senator Kevin Parker and the others around the nation working to make sure people can exercise their right to vote without interference from the government.“

“The US Supreme Court’s 2013 decision was a significant blow to long-standing voting rights protections credited with transforming American society,” said Bertha Lewis, President, The Black Institute. “Already several states including Alabama, Texas and Wisconsin have begun placing restrictions on the votes of communities of color. As a bastion of progress and diversity, New York State must lead the way in offering new voting protections in order to preserve the American tradition of voting.”

“The repeal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was an attack on the voting rights of communities of color across the United States,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). This is why I believe my legislation that would restore voting rights to thousands of New Yorkers is a timely and important initiative that will empower emerging communities of color.  I stand with this coalition in calling on Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to pass a bill to protect the increasingly vulnerable vote of Black and Brown communities.”   

Co-sponsors: 1199SEIU, DuBois ­Bunche Center for Public Policy and Census Information Center at Medgar Evers College, CUNY; Black Leadership Action Coalition (BLAC);   New York City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus; Asian American LDF; New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus; Latino Justice 

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